Review, We Are the Body of Christ
We go to church. We know people at church. And we know some things about church. But what is Church? The answers may surprise some. The first week we observed the behavior of Church in the beginning of Acts. We saw that the church was:
- Powerful in action (the miracle of tongues, 2:1-8)
- Global in scope (all nations were present, 2:9-11)
- Scriptural in its source of authority (Scripture was used to explain God’s work 2:16-21, 25-28, 34-35)
- Focused on salvation (3000 people were saved that day, 2:41)
- Serious about making disciples (Luke describes how the church shaped up believers 2:42-47)
In the second week, we learned of a particular method of the mission, and that is to love our neighbor. We discovered that love means to have a caring devotion over and above maintaining a human emotion. And last week, we highlighted the importance of the Gospel message itself. Last week we unpacked the big picture of the Gospel message- that is that Christ died for our sins and rose again.
Today we will center around how the Church should respond to people who stand out as different in some way. And this difference sometimes makes it difficult for them to connect with the mainstream culture around them. To figure how the church should act, we will take our cues from Christ’s life. We will see that Jesus:
- Treated kindly those that others treated unkindly
- Brought up close those that others would leave behind.
Jesus had a pattern of caring for those who were different. Let’s observe: Luke 5:12-13 (Jesus heals someone with leprosy)Luke 5:27-31 (Jesus calls Matthew to be a disciple and then defends his decision) Luke 8:39 (Jesus heals an adult with a demonic possession)Luke 8:42-48 (Jesus heals a woman with constant bleeding)
Jesus repeatedly identified with and expressed sympathy for those who were, because of conditions beyond their control, on the fringes of the cultural mainstream.
Jesus is at a place of worship on a day of worship. How does he respond to someone different? Please remember, bad theology lingered in the air, for example: “You do good, God blesses You do bad, and God is going to get you.”Physical contact with sickness carried sickness and spiritual impurity.” Jesus confronted a value system that placed religious rules over people. Jesus valued people over animals (property). Jesus’ example presents the apologetics of kindness.
The early church operated this way as well (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
The Big Takeaway
Jesus sees you. Values you over a program. Sees the physical and spiritual struggle. Considers you a person with an identity.
Personally- How can you notice and value those who are different?
Church-Wide- Be prepared to put this into practice as we open up our special-needs ministry. Here we will seek to incorporate people from various life experiences into the ministry life of our church.
TALK IT OUT
- Pastor Rusty made a point that Jesus regularly cared for those who were different. Read the following passages and then jot down an example from each of a time Jesus demonstrated this priority. (Luke 5:12-13, 5:27-31, 8:39, 8:42-48)
- Pastor Rusty says Jesus repeatedly identified with and expressed sympathy for those on the fringes of the cultural mainstream because of conditions beyond their control. What can we learn from Jesus’ example?
- Jesus confronted a value system that placed religious rules over people. He introduced what might be called “the apologetics of kindness.” List three times you have observed kindness create an opening to share God’s love.
- Pastor Rusty points out that we are to take our cues from Jesus when it comes to treating others who are not highly valued in our world. Make a list of three or four groups that are often overlooked in today’s society.
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and make a list of ways God worked in and through the early church to minister to those whom others had written off.
- What does it mean to you personally that Jesus values you over programs? Why is it so meaningful to understand that He knows and loves you personally?
Jesus cares about your physical and spiritual struggles. What physical and spiritual struggles do you need His help with right now?
LIVE IT OUT
- How can you notice and value those who are different?
- Look at the three or four groups you listed in question four who are often overlooked. How do you think Jesus would treat them?
- What are four ways Jesus could use you to help these groups?
- As Concord prepares to open our special needs ministry, ask God to show you where to get involved in this ministry to families who are routinely overlooked.
- Pray God will help you identify and minister to people this week who need to be touched and encouraged by your own “apologetics of kindness.”
- Be on the alert for opportunities with people you encounter this week who need Jesus’ love demonstrated through you being kind to them.